Three days ago, thanks to sightings reported by WSB readers, we were first to report on a story that since has been picked up by multiple citywide news organizations – cameras and wireless equipment that appeared on utility and streetlight poles along Harbor/Alki Avenues and Beach Drive.
Inquiries and research subsequently brought information – reported here Thursday – that it’s all part of a Seattle Police-led project funded by a federal Homeland Security grant.
This afternoon, SPD offered news organizations covering the story – including WSB – the chance to talk with Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh, who as the commander of the Special Operations Bureau is heading up the project. We talked with him late today, and while a detailed story will follow, there are a couple points we wanted to report tonight:
Biggest one: The cameras are not just along Alki. Nine are up now, and SPD says there will be 30 in all, from Shoreline to Fauntleroy, by the time they’re turned on, likely this spring:
The lines represent fiber connections – the dots, the camera locations. In West Seattle, in addition to the six we counted along Alki/Harbor/Beach, locations you see on the map include Alki Point, the West Seattle Bridge vicinity, Harbor Island, and one in Fauntleroy, which we found right over the southbound RapidRide bus stop at the ferry terminal:
(This one is installed on the inland side of the pole – a problem that Asst. Chief McDonagh confirmed had been fixed for some of the Alki cameras when it came to light in the past day or two.)
Another point of note: While the cameras’ primary mission is homeland security, McDonagh confirmed they can and will be deployed for many other things, including criminal investigations. He also said that there are no plans for community meetings or briefings about them, though he expected to update City Councilmembers at some point.
We recorded our conversation at SPD HQ downtown on video and will have that with the full story this weekend.